Friday, March 30, 2007

Quick update

I'm home, I'm well, I'm slightly more mentally stable than I have been in the last week and, best of all, I'm also scar-tissue free!

I'll post a more complete update when I'm a little less tired and achy.

But for now all's well in Uterusville.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and good wishes!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I wondered when this would come back to bite her in the ass. Oprah, I mean.

She's been strongly endorsing The Secret for months now, promoting the book, the movie and the feel-good-positive-thinkingness of the program on her show.

So much so that recently a woman wrote in to tell her that because of Oprah and The Secret, she was opting not to have a partial mastectomy because she believed she could heal herself.


Oprah just had the woman as a guest on her show to try to convince her to have the surgery (it appears she still plans to "think" her tumor away, by the way). In a stunning but life-threateningly necessary display of backpedding, Oprah had this to say about her understanding of how positive thinking can impact one's life:

"What I believe about the law of attraction, I want to clarify it," Oprah says. "I want to say it's a tool. It is not the answer to everything. It is not the answer to atrocities or every tragedy. It is just one law. Not the only law. And certainly, certainly, certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme. The law of attraction is a tool that can help you decide what you want your life to be, and then begin to help you focus on making the best choices through action to create that life."

So why didn't she just say this right from the start? Why fully endorse a belief when you either don't fully understand it or accept it? Why, why, WHY? Especially when you're such a powerful role model with such a huge, miracle-hungry audience?

I've kept my mouth shut on this subject for a long time. I'm very much a "to each his own" kind of girl and I don't like it when people mess with my belief system without invitation, so I haven't wanted to do it to anyone else's. But thank GOD Oprah had the presence of mind to offer some clarification and tone down her cheerleading.

I believe positive thinking is important. I believe it can help you achieve goals by putting you in the right frame of mind to work hard for what you want in life and to accept opportunities that come your way. I believe positive thinking is the reason I'm having surgery tomorrow, and I believe it's the reason I haven't lost my mind altogether these past two years.

But I don't believe it can heal me. I need the surgery for that. I can't sit on my couch and will away adhesions and scar tissue (if that is, in fact, what's going on in there).

And, while I'm at it, I also don't believe that being scared out of my mind while I was pregnant with Thomas because I'd already lost two babies before him was the reason that he died. I don't think I negative-energied my son to death. Nor do I think I'm preventing a future pregnancy by not being 100% positive that I will conceive again.

When you've held your dying child in your arms it's a little hard to be 100% positive about anything anymore.

I love the idea of self-empowerment and I'm all for anything that encourages people to have hope and to have the courage to fight for their dreams.

But I just don't believe in magic. And I'm glad Oprah has clarified that she doesn't either.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Things I've noticed the past few days...

If you dream about forgetting the forms you're supposed to take to your pre-op physical with you, you'll probably forget them in real life too.

The winter hides a lot of things. When the warm spring weather lures people out of their houses and out of the protective cloak of their winter coats, you see pregnant tummies that weren't there in the fall.


If you're going in for exploratory surgery to determine why you are suddenly mysteriously unable to conceive when it was once relatively easy for you, it will appear as though people are getting pregnant or having babies all around you.


When a guy you had a huge crush on once upon a time has his second child - a boy - on the anniversary of the day your dead baby was due two years ago, it will feel very much like the gods are laughing at you. And heartily so.


Having your OB approve your request for a little hit of pre-surgery Valium will relax you almost as much as popping one of the blessed little things.


Even though the idea of surgery is terrifying, the thought of not being able to eat after midnight the day before (when your surgery is scheduled for after lunch) is kind of disturbing too.


For some reason bringing a bottle of pee back from the doctor's office washroom through a waiting room of bored, gawking patients is somehow almost as embarrassing as dropping your pants and peeing right in front of them.


When you're feeling fragile and really need to be treated with kindness and a modicum of respect by an otherwise brusk and busy nurse, dropping the dead baby story into conversation really works.


Realizing you've forgotten your pre-op physical forms when you're more than half-way to your doctor's office, racing back home to get them and arriving for your appointment 10 minutes late will miraculously result in your blood pressure being the lowest it's ever been.


Finding out that your blood pressure is the lowest it's ever been when you're as freaked out as you've been in a very long time will make you worry that the nurse, distracted by your tale of woe, has somehow taken the reading incorrectly. It will take the reassurance of an exasperated husband to quell your fears.


Sometimes pretending you're not afraid fools even you.


Finding a nearby linen outlet that sells really nice pillowcases for $1.50 each feels a little like winning the lottery. Especially when you're very close to having to admit that you're pushing 40.


Writing down "pushing 40" in reference to yourself when you're two days away from exploratory surgery to determine why you have secondary infertility is a stupid, stupid idea.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A good deed

A friend just sent me this...

"I was just watching the news and came across this story about Shane Bernier. A 7 year old boy, whose wish is to break the record for number of birthday cards received.

He is currently undergoing cancer treatments in Lancaster, ON. What a heart-breaking story and such a big thing for a little person to deal with. I’m passing this on because I want him to reach his goal. I want him to believe that people care. And I want him to win this horrible battle. I don’t know him, and am not related to him. But he matters.

If you want to help his dream come true, please send Shane a birthday card before May 30th, 2007. The current record is well over 30 million, but just know that whether or not he reaches this goal is unimportant. What is important is having a dream. It’s knowing that people all over the world are rooting for him!


Po Box 484
Lancaster Ontario
Canada K0C 1NO

This is actually a true story and a real request. If you want more information about Shane (and proof that this isn't just another urban myth) click here and here.

Good luck little man!

Strength in numbers

Kate and Delphi have started something wonderful.

Click here to check it out. And don't forget to pass it on!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A little Sunday night poetry that somehow managed to move me

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
Then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
Go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
And make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

~Rainer Maria Rilke from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Spring Cleaning

I finally took the time to sit down and sort out my unwieldy list of blogs and links (many of which were bookmarked and not actually listed here at all). I've purged (ones that hadn't been updated in a long, long time - and one that suddenly required permission to view that I hadn't been granted), I've added and I've organized.

And I feel gooooooood.

I'm sure I still have more work to do (I still have an awful lot of bookmarked blogs), but it's a start and I'm feeling all nice and clear-headed the way I always do when something gets sorted out and cleaned up.

So go take a look. Admire and praise. Read and enjoy.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A public service announcement...

Chocolate improves blood vessel function: study

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Chocoholics were given further reason to rejoice on Saturday when a small clinical study showed that dark chocolate improves the function of blood vessels.

While the researchers cautioned against bingeing on bon bons, they said the findings of the trial were clear and called for larger such studies to confirm the results.

"In this sample of healthy adults, dark chocolate ingestion over a short period of time was shown to significantly improve (blood vessel) function," said Dr. Valentine Yanchou Njike of Yale Prevention Research Center, a co-investigator of the study.

The results, presented at the annual American College of Cardiology scientific meeting in New Orleans, add to mounting evidence of the health benefits of dark chocolate.

During the six-week trial, 45 people were given 8 ounces (227 grams) of cocoa without sugar, cocoa with sugar or a placebo each day.

An upper arm artery's ability to relax and expand to accommodate increased blood flow -- known as flow mediated dilation (FMD) -- was measured using high-frequency ultrasound before and after daily cocoa or placebo consumption.

Of the 39 subjects who completed the trial, FMD improved significantly in both cocoa groups -- by 2.4 percent among those who had it without sugar and 1.5 percent among those who had it with sugar. It dropped 0.8 percent in the placebo group.

"While the findings from this study do not suggest that people should start eating more chocolate as part of their daily routine, it does suggest that we pay more attention to how dark chocolate and other flavonoid-rich foods might offer cardiovascular benefits," Njike said.

So just ignore that last paragraph (I plan to), head out to the store to pick up your stash, and have a deliciously chocolate-covered Saturday night!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Great minds

I was whipped up into a pretty fantastic frenzy by about mid-day yesterday. Anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety attacks will understand the shaky, light-headed, slightly out-of-body feeling that clung to me most of the day like some sort of horrendously putrified stink.

I reeked of fear.

But the thing is, it wasn't so much about the lap itself as it was (as it is) the fear of being a patient in a hospital again. I've thought long and hard about this - about why this fills me with such dread - and aside from the obvious reminders of Thomas' birth and death that will be all around me in sight, sound and smell, I will be powerless. I will have no control over what happens to me once I sign the consent form and lay down on the operating table. Things will be done to me, just like they were two years ago, and I can't control any of it. I will be voluntarily giving up all control - and control over myself and my body is something I've spent two years fiercely protecting. And reveling in.

The moment I shuffled through the doors of the hospital 5 days after Thomas' died, I reclaimed my independence and have not relinquish that control to anyone for more than the briefest of moments since.

Yes, I've been poked and prodded and tested and medicated through the fertility clinic on and off for the last 9 months, but I go there voluntarily and I am still in control 99.9% of the time. And when I'm not, it's for just a moment - long enough for them to inject sperm into my uterus or get a read on a growing follicle or draw a vial of blood. All very manageable lengths of time.

But Thursday I will be at the mercy of my OB and his team in a way I haven't been since I was in the hospital with Thomas.

I remember one awful night laying splayed out on my hospital bed with nurses working both arms trying to find a vein that wasn't collapsed in order to reinsert my IV, while a miserable little shit of an OB put in an extra staple to close a leak in my C-section incision (which, to My Beloved's horror, had been oozing blood for close to two days).

I was utterly powerless and completely vulnerable both mentally and physically. And all I could do was lay there and cry.

I know this is a different situation altogether. I know this surgery won't be like the last one. It's quick, relatively painless and, as I said before, there isn't a dead baby involved here. Not before and not after.

But I still have to give myself over to the kind of people who played a such a key role in the horror show that was Thomas' birth.

Being reminded of that day - and the days that followed - in such an assaulting way is going to be hard. Impossibly hard. And adding the notion of complete and necessary submission to the mix makes it very, very frightening for me.

It's not the pain. It's not the fear of dying. It's the fear of remembering too much too vividly.

It was My Beloved who was finally able to talk me down. He and DinoD (who left a comment here yesterday) both had the very same suggestion.

Why not look at this as a trial run for the next hospital visit (which we hope will be a successful, healthy, happy-ending C-section). Exposure therapy, DinoD called it. Better to face my fears now when it's just simple day surgery, and be that much stronger if and when the time comes to return to the hospital for the birth of another child.

It made so much sense when My Beloved made the suggestion. I felt my shoulders ease and my breaths deepen. I felt my body unclench and my mind clear, just a little bit.

It gave the fear purpose. It gave meaning to my light-headed terror, and in doing so made so much of it go away.

Today I am afraid. But I'm stronger too.

Already I'm stronger.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I asked to be put on a cancellation list when I made my lap appointment because I didn't want to have to wait until May if there was any chance that I could sneak in earlier.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Damned hindsight.

Because, you see, they called me Tuesday to ask if I could take a cancellation. They called very early and woke me up and in my stupor I said yes.


And so my new appointment is next week. One week from today. ONE. WEEK. FROM. TODAY.

I couldn't be more freaked out if I tried. I've already requested Valium because I'm relatively sure I can't make it without some sort of strong hallucinatory drug intervention. And I mean drug intervention that begins long before I set sight on that big blue H sign.

Doing my pre-op blood work at the hospital was trauma enough. As soon as I got home and closed the front door I burst into tears.

Good Lord. What have I done?

This is all I can think about, so I apologize in advance for at least 6 more I AM FREAKED OUT BEYOND BELIEF posts between now and the surgery.

Please still love me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Real Moms and a beautiful lie

I've been tagged (and for the very first time!) by Catherine, who has challenged me, a mother with a child you can't see, to post a photograph that captures my experience as a mother - as a real mom.

As it was explained to Catherine by the person who tagged her, "...real moms sometimes have children you can’t see. This meme goes out to all the mothers who don’t get tagged for things like this. the ones who’ve given birth but had no baby to take home. who sit on the sidelines of conversations about mucous plugs and back labour, with stories to tell but no room to participate. who have a little gravestone or an urn or just a memory in the place of a child. who have adoption papers saying “relinquish all rights…” or ultrasound photos but nothing more. or who have two smiling school photos on their desk, but really, inside, count to three when you ask “how many kids do you have?” This is for all the real moms with children invisible to the eye."

I thought long and hard about what to choose. And then I remembered the picture I lovingly chose to tuck inside Thomas' coffin.

Because we did that. We each wrote a letter to our boy and we each chose something special to place in the coffin with him. At the time I believed I was doing it for him - so he'd know that we loved him. So he'd know how much we cared. So he'd have something - some little part of the world he never knew - tucked safely beside him for always.

I now recognize that it was for us too. Maybe more for us than him. But lost in our grief and facing the reality of burying our only child, we needed that comfort. We needed to have some of us stay with him forever.

And so on the back of this picture I wrote a love letter to my son:

We were just a few weeks away from conceiving Thomas when it was taken. We're looking up and smiling into the heavens, and that's the way I was desperate for Thomas to see us. I wanted to protect him from the unbearable pain I was feeling and make him believe that I would only ever think of him with a smile on my face.

It was a lie, but I think under the circumstances it was a beautiful lie. And one I'm not ashamed of because of the deep love that drove me to tell it.

And now (because as Catherine said, there are many real moms with children you cannot see) I tag Sherry and Laura.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

And again, thank you

Chrissy, Christy, Minna, Abby, Mags, Denise, Shelley, Claire, Carolyn, JellyJen, JenJR, Leslie, Jenn, Sarah, Natalie, Amy, Nina, JPup, Leah, Elle, Nikki, Kori, Nichole, Jess, Danielle, Kimber, Adrienne, Rosemarie, Najimi, Carli, Julia, Cheryl, Mary, Rachel, Sherry, Michelle, Kristin One-One, Stephanie, Anam, Rosepetal, DinoD, Kathy, Auntie Margo, Linda, Mom and Dad, and all the ladies in blogland who left comments and love and hugs...

Thank you for all the things you did, both big and small, to help remember Thomas and to celebrate his birthday with us.

I've tried, but I can't properly express how much it means to us to know that he is still loved and missed, and that he is still making an impact on the world he left far too soon.

So just thank you.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The chocolate is talking to me...

No, it really is - look ---->

That's the message from my Dove chocolate wrapper.

See? Chocolate is nice in every way. And, interestingly enough, in addition to somehow knowing exactly what to say, it also appears to have chutzpah.

I love chocolate. And clearly it loves me too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Here's an even better idea..

Did you know it's international Pi day?

Seriously - look:

"Pi Day and Pi Approximation Day are two unofficial holidays held to celebrate the mathematical constant π (Pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 (3/14 in American date format), due to pi being equal to roughly 3.14. Sometimes it is celebrated on March 14 at 1:59 p.m. (commonly known as "Pi Minute"),because if pi is rounded out to seven decimal places, it becomes 3.1415926, making March 14 at 1:59:26 p.m. "Pi Second"'

I wish I'd known. Any excuse to eat pie.

Since it wasn't all that well publicized (and you might not have had a chance to go out and get ingredients today) I think it's probably perfectly fine to delay your celebrations until tomorrow. So go on - make this:

Paula Deen's Banoffee Pie

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
10 tablespoons butter, softened
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 large bananas
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix graham cracker crumbs with softened butter and press mixture into 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes.

Lower the oven to 300 degrees F for the toffee filling.

To create toffee filling, caramelize the sweetened condensed milk. Pour the condensed milk into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and place dish inside a larger poaching pan. Add water to poaching pan until half way up sides of baking dish. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Once both the crust and toffee filling are cooled, spread half of the filling evenly inside crust. Slice the bananas and layer on top of filling. Pour remaining half of filling over bananas, spreading evenly. Whip the cream with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and spread on top of toffee filling and bananas.

News and other scary things

Soooooo, big news. (No, alas, not THAT big...). I finally got my laparoscopic surgery date set. D-day is May 18th at 1:00PM.

Oh good God.

The call came a week ago. I suppose it was partly because it was Thomas' birthday week and I was already suffering from a hefty dose of mental angst, but hearing the date - writing it down in ink - made me feel thoroughly light-headed and decidedly sick to my stomach. For quite some time.

Surgery confirmed.


After the last one (which ended so poorly in so many ways), I'm just a wee bit gun-shy. After much deep soul searching and introspection I've determined that it's not the surgery itself that's freaking me out (I will, after all, be asleep through it this time, not to mention the fact that there's absolutely no possible way that there will be a dead baby at the end of it). No, it's the very idea of being in a hospital again that has me shaking in my boots.

The sights, the sounds, the smells - putting myself in the hands of brusk, busy nurses and doctors who won't understand what I've been through and therefore can't possibly fathom my anxiety. Being in an operating room. Remembering. Being in a recovery room. Remembering - remembering, remembering, remembering.

It has to be done. I know I'll regret it if I don't. But oh Lord, I have no idea how I'm going to muster up the necessary courage.

Thank goodness My Beloved will be there with me, even though it sickens me to have to put him through this (stupid fucking body that won't fucking work!!!!). As hard as it was going through what I did when we lost Thomas, it had to be a thousand times worse for him because he had to helplessly watch me physically suffer - and he had to worry too. Which he did. A lot. A whole lot, poor boy.

The night the nurses and the OB came flying into my room to respond to my dangerously high blood pressure and rising fever (neither of which I was aware of, in such a stupor was I) my poor, poor Beloved nearly had a stroke. He had been asleep on an awful make-shift cot at the end of my hospital bed and he flew out of it like a man on fire, his face drained of colour and his eyes literally popping out of his head.

He was terrified. He'd lost his son two days earlier and, for the second time, thought he was going to lose his wife too.

What hell must that have been? It makes me want to cry just thinking about it. Remembering.

See? It's the remembering bit that does me in.

I know the lap is a very quick, very simple and very minor surgery, but nothing minor has ever happened to us at the hospital and wrapping my head around this is going to be very hard.

Even now just writing about it I'm feeling a little woozy.

Oy. This is so not good.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Laziness + Nostalgia = this

(P.S. I say "laziness" because, as anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time knows, this has already been posted here. It just feels like a re-run kind of day, that's all.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

A sign from above

Despite the fact that Huggies (who, as it turns out, are cruelly punctual) dropped a "Your baby is 24-months old!" coupon and information package in our mailbox on Friday, of all days, we survived.

We had a really peaceful sort of day (unexpected mail aside) and when I finally lay down to go to sleep I felt more calm and relaxed than I have in months. Maybe years.

The sheer bliss of making it through the hard days is nothing short of euphoric. I ran on adrenalin all day long and crashed in a heap of contentment at 2:00am. Well, after crashing on the couch for three hours at 7:00pm.

Euphoria is tiring.

I missed my boy. But I believe he gave me a little birthday hello on Sunday night when I saw a huge shooting star on the way in from evening Mass.

A neighbour of ours a few doors down had a son last March. She deftly avoided telling me what day he was born so all I knew was that he arrived in March. But on Sunday their porch was festooned with birthday balloons, and on my way home from Mass I caught sight of the crowd in their living room celebrating. Having a birthday party. On Thomas' birthday weekend.

I felt so deflated and lonely as I pulled the car over the unmelted ice and snow and into our driveway. Last year I was fixated on the party we didn't hold, but this year I didn't dwell on it for some reason. Until I saw one for another little March boy just five doors down.

I was glumly walking around the car to head into the house, my eyes downcast, when for some reason I looked up into the dusky sky and caught a glimpse of a little orange ball of fire with an enormous blue-green firey tail.

I was transfixed. And puzzled because I couldn't figure out why on earth anyone would be setting off firecrackers on March 11th.

When I described the heavenly vision it to My Beloved, he said it sounded very much like a meteor or shooting star (which was confirmed today).

Even though it's silly of me to believe this, I think it was Thomas' way of celebrating with me. We couldn't have a party like the boy down the street, but we had a beautiful little moment, he and I, and I can't think of a nicer way to end his birthday weekend than that.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Happy birthday beautiful, beautiful boy.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Thank you

We are truly overwhelmed.

The charities people have chosen to support in memory of our boy are wonderful, and your generosity is, once again, totally mind boggling. We are so grateful to our friends both near and far for keeping his spirit alive.

And to those who are keeping Thomas close in their thoughts and prayers tomorrow, and those who are celebrating with cake and candles too, thank you. Those sweet, simple remembrances warm my heart and give me more comfort than you can possibly imagine.

He was a going concern for those precious few months I knew him. He'd kick at me when I'd sneeze, and when I'd poke him he'd poke right back. He was breech one week and head down the next. He was busy. Very, very busy indeed.

And so I don't think he would have been someone who'd have rested on his laurels. I truly believe he'd have made an effort to make a difference in this world if he'd stayed. And that's why I know he must be beaming from ear to ear knowing that so many beautiful things are being done on his birthday to help other children and other people in need - and to give his Mommy and Daddy such comfort.

So from all three of us, thank you.


"The love, the love is overwhelming. It's huge, and, at least for now, it's painful. I realized a little bit ago that I love my children exactly the same, exactly the way a mother should-- the same. It's strange to love these two people the same-- one who I have watched grow for five years, and one I only got to hold after he was gone. It took me several weeks to realize that, and for now it hurts. It hurts because there is nothing I can do to show my son this love. I hope it gets better with time."

This comment made me ache.

The desperate love I had for my son and the awful feeling that I had no way to lavish it upon him after he died made me crazy in those early days. I think it's why I spent so much time choosing his grave marker, and why it felt like the most important thing in the world for me to do. I believed it was all I could do. Ever.

Because the love you show to a baby is so physical. We kiss, we hug, we tuck in, we rock, we nurse, we pick up, we swaddle, we cuddle. Our bodies are in almost constant contact with a newborn, as they were when we were carrying them.

So when your child dies and you find yourself with empty arms and too much time, that terrible and confusing feeling of having all that love and no one to give it to is agonizing.

It's probably why I still occasionally find myself tucking in My Beloved - a 37-year old man who is quite capable of pulling the blankets up by himself.

But as time has passed, I've settled in to a comfortable rhythm with Thomas. When I let myself think about it too long and too hard, my arms still find themselves empty and useless, but most of the time they don't. My love for him is about more than what I can physically do for him. It's about so much more than that - as is every mother's love.

I talk to him. A lot, actually. And I remember him and love him with a fierce passion I can't begin to put into words. And I keep his spirit alive by speaking his name - by making him part of conversations with family and friends. And, of course, I write about him here.

My greatest fear has always been that he'll just fade away, eventually becoming something people are too uncomfortable to talk about. By keeping him alive as part of my life, I show my love for him. Every day.

And Julia, you do too. I know you do.

As Thomas' birthday draws near, I've been reminded in a very tangible way that people do remember our beautiful boy, and I'm more grateful than I can adequately express for the comfort and happiness it brings me.

It's not even his birthday yet, and donations have been made to:

United States Fund for Unicef
St. Jude Research Hospital
Children's Wish Foundation of Canada
The Heifer Project (a donation of a flock of geese to a family in the third world)
St. Louis Zoo (a sea lion adoption)
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (for pediatric cancer research)
A hospital's NICU (local to the donor)
Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis
S.O.S Children's Village, BC (Family care service for Foster children and Foster families)
B.C. Children's Hospital
Operation Smile
Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago
Red Cross (Blood donation)
Make A Child Smile
TEARS Foundation (offers financial funeral assistance to bereaved parents)
A donor's Church's school (which aids community youth)
Walk America (March of Dimes)

I don't take any credit for the incredible and overwhelming generosity of the people who have made these donations in Thomas' memory, but I do believe that the love that My Beloved and I show for him is at least a small part of the reason why people are moved to specifically remember him.

So I know that he sees my love - and I know he feels it. It's not your average mother/son relationship, true, but it's every bit as strong, important and real as it would be if he was still here.

And it always will be.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Two years

Two years ago today they started the induction process with an application of gel.

I'm literally floored that so much and so little time has passed.

It was a whole other life back then. And I was a totally different person living it. The world was ordered differently and things made sense. There was logic. Plans could be made. Prayers worked. Doctors saved. Babies lived.

For God's sake, it's like I've been abducted by aliens and I'm living in some sort of parallel universe where things appear to be normal, but are clearly very, very different indeed.

I once read in a document (intended for physicians and therapists treating bereaved parents) that most parents who lose a child find it takes between 2 and 5 years to feel "normal" again.

And by normal I don't mean the same as before, because there's no going back to the person you were before your child came and went. You can't be the same after losing your heart - after losing a piece of yourself. An amputee is forever changed, and so are we. It's just harder to tell from the outside.

So it's been almost two years. Do I feel normal? Yes and no. I feel more connected than I did a year ago. I'm faking things a lot less and that fuzzy, out-of-body feeling that plagued me when I was out of my comfort zone (at parties, social events and family gatherings) has all but disappeared. I seek out my friends more than I used to and I look forward to their company in a way I wasn't able to before.

I'm not just enduring things the way I was that horrible first year. I don't have to force myself so much anymore.

But I'm not quite there yet. I don't feel comfortable in my own skin the way I used to. I'm still a little bit of a stranger and I startle myself every once in a while. The me I used to be reacted to things very differently than this person I am now does. And sometimes I'm caught off guard by her antics - and the depth of her sorrow and anger.

But she's not all bad. Yes, there's a good deal of road rage and a lot of ranting about things that are beyond my control (like President Bush, kids with cellphones, gas-guzzling SUVs and the fantabulous infertility midway ride from hell that I didn't pay for and can't seem to disembark), but there are also some good bits in there too.

For one thing, I'm a good mommy. And, more importantly, I feel like a mother in a way I didn't when I first lost Thomas. It's different than being a mother to a living child, sure, but I am a mother. Feeling the love I have for my child is something that moves me to tears. I had no idea it was possible to feel love like this, and to be inspired and challenged by it every day.

I like that bit of me very, very much. And I'm immeasurably proud of it too.

Now if I could only figure out a way to stop flipping off drivers who tailgate and honking at ones that refuse to signal lane changes I'd be even closer to my goal. But I've got three more years for that, right?

I'm doing okay.

Monday, March 05, 2007


The church secretary had no explanation for the Mass not being listed in the bulletin, nor for why it was mysteriously moved to tomorrow instead of Thursday (something I didn't know until I called). But the good news is that she was very sympathetic to my situation. Likely because I didn't waste any time whipping out the dead baby story.

And in the end, she actually offered to move the Mass to Friday instead.

So while it won't be printed in the bulletin, it will be announced at Mass - and that Mass will be on his actual birthday.

Will wonders never cease?

Heaven help them if another clerical error screws up the announcement of his name on Friday. I cannot be held responsible for my actions should that happen. I will need a throat to throttle.

In the interim, I think I'll just keep hoping for the best.

'Cause that always works out soooo well for me.

It almost ended in disaster

Last February I went to my church to arrange to have a Mass said for Thomas on his first birthday. At my old church this was never a problem. Pick a date, pay and it's yours. But the rules are a little different at the church I attend now, possibly because it's a different diocese. Or because the priest has his own set of rules. Or because shitty luck follows me wherever I go. You see, after checking her book, the secretary politely told me that someone had already paid to have a Mass on March 9th, and I couldn't add Thomas to the list. "Only one per Mass", she told me, even though I quietly mumbled that I was having it said for my baby's first birthday, and that he'd died.

I was upset, but calm. I'm a "rules are rules" kind of girl and I'm no more special than any of the other congregants, so I just asked to have the next available Mass date instead.

As a result, Thomas' first birthday Mass was said in July, more than four months after his actual birthday.

Understanding my disappointment, the secretary asked if I wanted to schedule a Mass for this year, 2007, since they were already booking that far ahead. I jumped at the chance, certain that I would have to be the only person requesting a March '07 Mass in February '06.

Naturally I wasn't. March 9th was already taken. But this time instead of waiting until four months after his birthday I was able to get the day before. I left the church a little upset, but satisfied that I'd done all I could and that at least Thomas would get his 2nd birthday Mass a little closer to his actual birthday.

So yesterday on the way into Mass I picked up the Sunday bulletin with stupid excitement because I knew I'd see his name in it, and seeing his name always fills me with a rush of love and pride. I knelt down to pray, thinking about the unread bulletin beside me and how I'd tuck it safely in Thomas' drawer as soon as I got home.

I'm sure you must know where this is going. It is, after all, me. Me with the world's worst possible luck.

I finished my distracted prayer, sat down, undid my coat, got comfortable, opened up the bulletin - and saw someone else's name listed for the March 8th Mass.

I was stunned. Nearly stunned into a torrent of tears. I couldn't believe what I wasn't reading. I scanned all the other weekday Masses and didn't see his beautiful name listed under any of them.

They'd made a mistake. After all my careful planning, someone had made a clerical error. A simple error that threw me into a tailspin.

All I could think of was that I just wanted this one little comfort. All I'd asked was to see my boy's name in the bulletin and know that a Mass was being offered in his memory the day before his birthday.

I'll never have birthday pictures to put in an album and I won't get to hug and kiss my little man on the day he turns two. But I knew that, and so I figured that at least the gods would give me the tiny comfort of a Mass and a name to read.

It took me all the mental energy I had not to get up, walk out and never look back. In fact, it took me a full half an hour to get myself beyond the brink of tears and settled enough to stay put. And the only reason I did was because I like my priest and didn't want him to see me leave early. I didn't want the shame of that on top of all the other ugly things I was thinking and feeling.

So I stayed. Numb and quiet, refusing to sing and just barely mumbling the responses. 'Cause that'll show God.

At the end of the Mass as I stood buttoning up my coat, I felt a presence beside me and turned to see the lady who played the organ at Thomas' funeral standing beside me smiling. She's an old family friend - I've known her since I was a teenager - and we almost always go to the same Mass, but I haven't spoken to her in more than a year.

That's the way it goes sometimes.

But for some reason she sought me out yesterday. And she somehow managed to erase the ugliness I felt with the kindness of her spirit. I opened my mouth and everything fell out - the fact that this was a hard week for me because of Thomas' birthday, the fact that we were dealing with secondary infertility, the fact that I was scared about the impending (though as yet unscheduled) surgery. She hugged me (several times), she shared her sorrows with me, she encouraged me and she made me laugh.

And then we said goodbye, the now empty church echoing with the sound of our parting words.

And I felt happy. And at peace.

I still have to sort out the Mass situation and I'm still upset that for some reason God didn't see fit to give me that one little comfort without the added bonus of a monkey wrench. But as I've learned all too well, life never quite goes the way you plan, and it takes more hard work than not to coerce it into something that doesn't make you want to cry.

But I'm just stubborn enough to keep working hard.

And as soon as the office opens, the church will be hearing from me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The crulest month

So here it is. March.

March has stolen two children from us. The first, in 2004, was a very early miscarriage (my second). Thomas followed in March 2005.

It's known for its winds, is March, but for me it's a harbinger of sorrow. This month isn't sometime I endure, it's something I survive. It holds unfathomably horrible memories for me and the turn of the calendar brings them rushing back in a cruel torrent.

And if that makes me sound like a drama queen, then so be it. As I said, I can't and won't apologize for this hell and what it does to me.

I remember sitting on the couch crying three years ago after my body quickly and quietly rejected our second child. I was sure I'd never be able to carry a baby and would never be able to give My Beloved the family we'd been dreaming of. I felt more empty and broken than I'd ever felt in my entire life.

Until a year later when I lay numbly on that same couch recovering from the physical effects of a traumatic c-section and its complications. I hadn't even begun to heal emotionally.

By then I'd lost three children. And still had yet to bury the last.

So if I'm "brooding" or seem distant or not myself for a while, this is why.

The enormity of my losses - three souls, three desperately loved and wanted children - still takes it toll on me. And it always will. This isn't something you "get over", it's something you struggle with for the rest of your life.

It's just that March makes it so much worse.

It's agonizing trying to think of ways to celebrate the birthday of a child who isn't here. Last year we spent the day on a good deed mission, and we'll do the same this year. After there will be a quiet lunch out and cake when we get home, and the closeness between the two people who suffered the same loss and who take solace from knowing there is someone else who understands and never judges.

But do you see? There should be a toddler - a little boy with a big smile and cake all over his face - giving sticky hugs and ripping into brightly wrapped packages. There should be goodnight stories and night time kisses and wishes for a happy year ahead. There should be a little family in this house.

But instead there's just us trying not to think too much about what we lost and trying to find ways to make it better.

I've lost my baby and that baby would be a toddler now. It's like losing him all over again. Baby, toddler, boy, teenager, man. Eventually I will lose them all.

And this is March.